Podarcis wall lizards are endemic to the Mediterranean Basin where they represent the predominant reptile group. Despite being extensively used as model organisms in evolutionary and ecological studies their phylogeny and historical biogeography are still incompletely resolved. Moreover, molecular clock calibrations used in wall lizard phylogeography are based on the assumption of vicariant speciation triggered by the abrupt Mediterranean Sea level rise at the end of the Messinian salinity crisis (MSC). However, the validity of this biogeographic calibration remains untested. In this study we inferred a robust time tree based on multilocus data and fossil calibrations using both gene concatenation and species-tree approaches and including models with gene-flow. We found five deeply divergent, geographically coherent, and well-supported clades comprising species from i) Iberian Peninsula and North Africa; ii) Western Mediterranean islands, iii) Sicilian and Maltese islands; and iv-v) Balkan region and Aegean islands. The mitochondrial tree shows some inconsistencies with the species tree that warrant future investigation. Diversification of main clades is estimated in a short time frame during the Middle Miocene and might have been associated with a period of global climate cooling with the establishment of a marked climatic zonation in Europe. Cladogenetic events within the main clades are scattered throughout the time tree, from the Late Miocene to the Early Pleistocene, suggesting that speciation events in wall lizards reflect a complex interplay between regional topography, climate and geological history rather than a shared major climatic or paleogeographic event. Our absolute time estimates, as well as a relative dating approach, demonstrate that the assumption of a causal link between sea-level rise at the end of the MSC and the diversification of many island endemics is not justified. This study reinforces the notion that multiple dispersal and vicariant events, at different time frames, are required to explain current allopatric distributions and to account for the historical assembly of Mediterranean biota, and cautions against the use of biogeographic calibrations based on the assumption of vicariance.

Fossil-calibrated time tree of Podarcis wall lizards provides limited support for biogeographic calibration models

Salvi D.;
2021

Abstract

Podarcis wall lizards are endemic to the Mediterranean Basin where they represent the predominant reptile group. Despite being extensively used as model organisms in evolutionary and ecological studies their phylogeny and historical biogeography are still incompletely resolved. Moreover, molecular clock calibrations used in wall lizard phylogeography are based on the assumption of vicariant speciation triggered by the abrupt Mediterranean Sea level rise at the end of the Messinian salinity crisis (MSC). However, the validity of this biogeographic calibration remains untested. In this study we inferred a robust time tree based on multilocus data and fossil calibrations using both gene concatenation and species-tree approaches and including models with gene-flow. We found five deeply divergent, geographically coherent, and well-supported clades comprising species from i) Iberian Peninsula and North Africa; ii) Western Mediterranean islands, iii) Sicilian and Maltese islands; and iv-v) Balkan region and Aegean islands. The mitochondrial tree shows some inconsistencies with the species tree that warrant future investigation. Diversification of main clades is estimated in a short time frame during the Middle Miocene and might have been associated with a period of global climate cooling with the establishment of a marked climatic zonation in Europe. Cladogenetic events within the main clades are scattered throughout the time tree, from the Late Miocene to the Early Pleistocene, suggesting that speciation events in wall lizards reflect a complex interplay between regional topography, climate and geological history rather than a shared major climatic or paleogeographic event. Our absolute time estimates, as well as a relative dating approach, demonstrate that the assumption of a causal link between sea-level rise at the end of the MSC and the diversification of many island endemics is not justified. This study reinforces the notion that multiple dispersal and vicariant events, at different time frames, are required to explain current allopatric distributions and to account for the historical assembly of Mediterranean biota, and cautions against the use of biogeographic calibrations based on the assumption of vicariance.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11697/179690
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